South AfricaOfficial Name: Republic of South Africa
BLANK PASSPORT PAGES:
2 pages required for entry stamp
TOURIST VISA REQUIRED:
Not required for stays under 90 days
CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR ENTRY:
CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR EXIT:
Embassies and Consulates
1 Sandton Drive (opposite Sandton City Mall)
Telephone: (27-11) 290-3000 (from South Africa 011-290-3000)
Emergency Telephone: (011) 290-3000 or 079-111-1684 (outside South Africa: 27 79-111-1684)
Fax: (27-11) 884-0396 (from South Africa (011-884-0396)
U.S. Consulate General Cape Town
2 Reddam Avenue, West Lake 7945,
Cape Town, South Africa
Telephone: (27-21) 702-7300 (from South Africa 021-702-7300)
Emergency Telephone: 021-702-7300 (outside of Africa 27 702-7300)
Fax: (27-21) 702-7493 (from South Africa 021-702-7493)
U.S. Consulate General Durban
303 Dr. Pixley KaSeme Street (formerly West Street)
31st Floor Old Mutual Centre
Telephone: (27-31) 305-7600 (from South Africa 031-305-7600)
Emergency Telephone: (031) 305-7600 or 079-111-1445 (outside South Africa: 27 079-111-1445)
Fax: (27-31) 305-7691 (from South Africa 031-305-7691)
U.S. Embassy Pretoria
877 Pretorius Street, Arcadia
Telephone: (27-12) 431-4000 (from South Africa 012-431-4000)
Emergency Telephone: Please contact the closest Consulate.
Fax: (27-12) 342-2299 or (27-12) 431-5504 (from South Africa 012-431-5504)
South Africa is a parliamentary democracy and is, in many respects, a developed country, although much of its population lives in poverty. All major urban areas have modern, world-class hotels and tourist facilities. Game parks and areas most often visited by tourists have a wide range of facilities. Food and water are generally safe, and a wide variety of consumer goods and pharmaceuticals is readily available. The capital is Pretoria, while the seat of parliament is located in Cape Town. Johannesburg is the financial capital and largest city in South Africa. Durban is home to Africa’s busiest port and is the number-one domestic tourist destination for South Africans. Read the Department of State's information on relations with South Africa for additional information.
Entry, Exit & Visa Requirements
Visitors to South Africa for tourism, short business meetings, or those in transit do not require visas for stays of up to 90 days. In the event that a traveler overstays that period without a permit issued by the South African Department of Home Affairs, he or she may be subject to a fine of up to 3,000 rand (approximately 350 U.S. dollars). All others, including academics, students on educational trips, and volunteers, may need visas. U.S. citizens who intend to work in South Africa must apply for work permits before arrival; otherwise you risk being refused admission and returned to your point of origin. It is strongly suggested that all travelers check the latest requirements with the nearest South African Embassy or Consulate before traveling.
Please Note: South African law requires travelers to have one (1) totally blank (unstamped) visa page in their passport in order to enter the country. In practice, however, travelers often need to have more than one blank page. There have been numerous instances in which South African immigration officers required travelers to have two (2) fully blank pages. Some travelers have been refused entry and returned to their point of origin. All travelers are strongly advised to have at least two fully blank passport visa pages upon arrival in South Africa. Travelers without the requisite blank visa pages in their passports may be refused entry into South Africa, fined, and returned to their point of origin at their own expense. In many cases, South African authorities have not granted approval for U.S. Consular officers to assist U.S. citizen travelers by adding extra visa pages.As a general precaution, all travelers are advised to carry a photocopy of the photo/bio information page of their passport and keep it in a location separate from their passport.
Travelers entering South Africa from WHO-designated yellow fever countries are required to present their current and valid “International Certificate of Vaccination as approved by the World Health Organization (WHO)” (commonly called a “yellow card”) or statement of medical exemption (also located on the same yellow card). Additionally, South Africa treats Zambia and Tanzania as yellow fever countries. This requirement is imposed on travelers flying to South Africa via yellow fever countries, even when passengers transiting a yellow fever country do not deplane in the yellow fever country (e.g., flights stopping in Dakar, Senegal, Accra, Ghana, or Nairobi, Kenya), or if the plane makes an unscheduled landing in a yellow fever country. As a precaution, all travelers to South Africa should carry their original yellow vaccination card. South African immigration inspectors do not generally accept letters, scans, copies, or faxes regarding prior yellow fever vaccination. While this requirement may not be consistently applied, travelers who cannot present an original and currently valid yellow card risk being refused entry into South Africa. Yellow fever vaccinations are not administered at South African ports of entry for the purpose of entry into South Africa. Travelers are reminded that they are required to obtain a yellow fever vaccination at least 10 days prior to their arrival in South Africa in accordance with WHO regulations. South Africa may apply these requirements to people traveling from or through both high-risk yellow fever countries and low-risk yellow fever countries.
Visit the Embassy of South Africa website for the most current visa information.
The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of South Africa.
Information about dual nationality and the prevention of international child abduction can be found on our website. For further information about customs regulations, please read our Customs Information sheet.
Cell Phones: It is advisable to carry a mobile phone while in South Africa. You may find it useful to have an “unlocked” cell phone with international roaming capability to use while in South Africa. The Independent Communication Authority of South Africa has established new rules that require all new cell phones and SIM cards to be registered. Information on how to register may be found on its website.
You may buy an inexpensive SIM card to use with your "unlocked" cell phone and airtime once you arrive in South Africa. SIM cards and airtime may be purchased at many retail outlets, including Woolworths, Pick ‘n Pay, Spar, Checkers, and most grocery stores and cellular retail stores such as Vodacom, MTN, Cell C, etc.
Rental mobile phones are widely available and may be rented from kiosks at major airports. The nationwide emergency number for the police is 10111, and the nationwide number for ambulance service is 10177. It is not necessary to dial an area code when calling these numbers.
Safety and Security
Terrorism: Anti-American violence is not typical in South Africa, although in the past there have been isolated incidents perpetrated by parties unhappy about U.S. foreign policy. Nevertheless, the Department of State remains concerned about the continued worldwide threat of terrorist attacks, demonstrations, and other violent actions against U.S. citizens and interests overseas. You are encouraged to review the most recent Worldwide Caution issued by the Department of State.
Xenophobic Attacks: South Africa has seen a number of attacks directed at refugees or immigrants from other African nations in recent years. Many of the attacks were centered in Johannesburg and the province of Gauteng in low-income neighborhoods and informal settlements, but other incidents have taken place throughout the country. Many individuals have been killed in these incidents, including targeted victims as well as bystanders. While there have been no reports of U.S. citizens or other non-African visitors being targeted, these incidents of mob violence have sprung up quickly and proven difficult for local authorities to control. U.S. citizen residents and visitors are advised to listen to local media for reports of such incidents and to avoid areas (primarily--but not limited to--townships) where they may be likely to occur.
Public Disturbances and Strikes: Organized or wildcat labor strikes occur regularly in South Africa. Service delivery protests also occur frequently and are generally motivated by poor residents’ frustrations with shortfalls in public service deliveries. While both types of disturbances – labor strikes and service delivery protests – are generally localized and normally occur well away from typical tourist destinations, these disturbances can develop quickly, unpredictably, and occasionally turn violent. Use caution and steer clear of any area where protests, demonstrations, or other public disturbances are taking place. During strikes by public workers, access to government offices, public hospitals and schools may be difficult due to protests, and should be avoided if possible. South Africa has many private medical facilities/services that may not be impacted by public-service strikes.
Public Transportation: Public transportation accidents involving trains, buses, minibus taxis and private cars are a regular occurrence in South African and past incidents have resulted in deaths or serious injuries. In addition, minibus taxis and buses have been targeted by criminal elements for hijacking and robbery. Often, the safety and security standards on public transportation systems – especially in urban areas and townships - in South Africa are not on par with what travelers would expect in the United States. The use of individual metered taxis from established taxi companies and tour buses is recommended. The Gautrain, which travels between the airport and Johannesburg/Pretoria, is considered a very reliable and safe mode of transportation.
Game Park/Safari Safety: While visiting game parks and reserves, it is dangerous to leave your vehicle or otherwise be on foot, even in the presence of a guide. Several incidents of wild animal attacks on tourists in the region have resulted in deaths or serious injuries.
Ocean Safety: If visiting South Africa’s expansive coastline, be mindful of the possible presence of sharks when swimming or engaging in water sports. In 2012, at the Fish Hoek beach and other areas of the Cape Town and Western Cape coastlines and at Port St. John’s in the Eastern Cape, several people were attacked by sharks, and some of the attacks were fatal. When a shark is spotted close to the shore, local authorities will sound a warning siren to notify swimmers if lifeguards and shark spotters are on duty.
Tragic accidents can occur when swimming in the ocean or walking/climbing on shore areas that are not designated and lifeguard-patrolled beaches. Visitors from the United States and elsewhere have drowned when swimming in coastal waters, where riptides, tides and wave patterns can change unexpectedly and overwhelm even excellent swimmers. Do not swim alone in isolated beach areas. Do not dive into unknown bodies of water, as hidden rocks or shallow depths can cause serious injury or death.
Stay up to date by:
- Bookmarking our Bureau of Consular Affairs website, which contains the current Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts as well as the Worldwide Caution.
- Following us on Twitter and the Bureau of Consular Affairs page on Facebook as well.
- Downloading our free Smart Traveler app, available through iTunes and the Android market, for travel information at your fingertips.
- Calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free within the United States and Canada, or a regular toll line, 1-202-501-4444, from other countries.
- Taking some time before travel to consider your personal security. Here are some useful tips for traveling safely abroad.
CRIME: The vast majority of visitors complete their travels in South Africa without incident. However, visitors should be aware that criminal activity is prevalent throughout the country and can be violent. The South African government has in place a number of strong anti-crime initiatives, but violent crimes, such as armed robbery, carjacking, mugging, "smash-and-grab" attacks on vehicles, and other criminal acts are still common and do affect visitors and resident U.S. citizens.
Note: Visitors to the U.S. Embassy in Pretoria and U.S. Consulates General in Cape Town, Durban, and Johannesburg should be aware of the risk of muggings, several of which have occurred near U.S. diplomatic facilities. While measures have been taken to address concerns about potential muggings, visitors approaching U.S. government facilities should be aware of their personal security and carry as little money and valuables as possible.
Visitors and residents are advised of ongoing criminal activity involving organized crime gangs targeting individuals and commercial businesses at shopping centers and other public places. Once a victim has been identified, he/she may be followed back to his/her residence or hotel and robbed. Robberies often involve weapons; the use of force is used from the moment of attack and generally escalates greatly for those offering some form of resistance.
These gangs target people of opportunity and not always appearing to be affluent. Crime affects all sectors of society to include those driving expensive cars, wearing eye-catching jewelry, flashing large amounts of cash, and/or making high-value purchases. Criminals also gravitate towards “soft” targets - people who appear preoccupied and do not pay attention to their immediate surroundings. Visitors who believe they are being followed should travel directly to a police station or other public location of safety.
Cash-in-transit (armored vehicles) robberies remain common; tourists should try to avoid traveling near these vehicles and personnel during a cash delivery or pick-up, particularly at shopping centers or other public locations. Crimes against property, such as carjacking, have often been accompanied by violent acts, including murder, when victims resist or are slow to respond to attackers’ demands.
South Africa also has the highest reported occurrence of rape in the world. Foreigners are not specifically targeted, but several have been the victims of rape. Victims of violent crime, especially rape, are strongly encouraged to seek immediate medical attention, including antiretroviral therapy against HIV/AIDS. Questions about how to receive such treatment should be directed to the nearest U.S. consulate.
Criminal activity, such as assault, armed robbery, and theft, is particularly high in areas surrounding certain hotels and public transportation centers, especially in major cities. Theft of passports and other valuables is most likely to occur at airports, bus terminals, and train stations. A number of U.S. citizens have been mugged or violently attacked on commuter and metro trains, especially between Johannesburg and Pretoria.
In the Western Cape, police resources have been strained by continuing gang conflicts and vigilante violence in the low-income areas and informal settlements around Cape Town. People who are unfamiliar with the Cape Flats/Khayelitsha area, surrounding townships, and squatter camps should not visit these areas. Additionally, travelers should be aware that muggings have occurred along popular hiking routes on Table Mountain. Visitors to Table Mountain should be vigilant, hike in groups, and not carry/display valuables.
Crime in Durban remains high. Visitors should avoid traveling in the city center after dark, as well as all travel to the surrounding townships. The suburbs north and west of the city are generally considered to be safer than the city center, but all visitors should remain vigilant and exercise situational awareness at all times.
If confronted by an armed individual, you should immediately comply, and avoid making sudden movements. Any hesitation on your part could be perceived as a threat and may result in unnecessary violence.
ATMs: Criminals often loiter near ATMs, targeting persons withdrawing cash. A common scheme is the “Good Samaritan” fraud, where a criminal attempts to “help out” with a particular ATM transaction. Often the ATM in these situations has been tampered with to record the card information, and the “Good Samaritan” will then take the information and use it to withdraw cash later. This is a prevalent crime, and both residents and visitors have been targeted. Do not accept “assistance” from anyone, or agree to assist others with ATM transactions. Travelers should also try to avoid using ATMs after business hours, on the street, or in remote locations.
Criminals have also used commercial explosives to blow up ATMs in South Africa. ATM bombings have taken place in the early hours of the morning in remote or isolated areas, although some attacks have taken place at gas stations and shopping complexes.
Based on these threats, the following security precautions are recommended:
- Avoid using ATMs in dark, remote, or isolated areas.
- Never allow someone to assist you at the ATM, and never assist anyone else at the ATM, either.
- ATMs located inside shopping malls, hotels, and banks are preferred since they are normally high-traffic areas, and are monitored by security guards and cameras.
- Avoid using an ATM with a cord or any foreign object attached to it. If you notice a suspicious device on or alteration to an ATM, immediately leave the area, take cover, and notify the police. Shrapnel and debris from an explosion can travel long distances and cause serious injury or death.
- Before withdrawing money, scan the area for any suspicious persons or activity. Should anyone approach you while you are withdrawing money, immediately cancel the transaction, remove your card, and leave the area.
Incidents of credit card fraud, counterfeit U.S. currency, and various check-cashing scams have also been reported. When giving your credit card to a store or restaurant employee for processing, do not let the card out of your sight. Most South African restaurants and gas stations have portable credit card machines that can be brought to your table or car.
Hotel Security: Thefts from hotel rooms throughout the country remain a concern. Travelers are strongly encouraged to make use of hotel-provided room safes or lock-boxes at the front desk for all valuables.
Financial and Romance Scams: Visitors should also beware of telephone, internet, and e-mail fraud schemes, which attempt to win the confidence of unsuspecting persons who are persuaded to enter into a romantic relationship via email, or to provide financial assistance, or to travel to South Africa and assist in a supposedly lucrative business venture. Since 2008, there have been several cases of U.S. citizens losing thousands of dollars and putting themselves in danger by responding to either romantic or financial scams (also known as “419 scams”). “Lonely hearts” scams are a common and growing problem, with “engagements” via internet used to lure victims into sending money to assist with supposed education, health or job problems. Victims have lost tens-of-thousands of dollars on these scams. If you are contacted by someone claiming to be a U.S. citizen you met on the internet or only know online asking you for financial assistance, instruct them to contact the nearest U.S. consulate. You should exercise extreme caution when sending funds to individuals overseas for any reason whether your relationship with them is of a business or personal nature. Some scam victims have traveled to South Africa only to lose more money, and in a few cases, to be physically attacked or kidnapped for ransom. Click to view the State Department’s financial scam web page. If you have lost money in a financial scam, please file a report with your local police and with the Internet Crime Complaint Center. Victims can also report Internet fraud to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) online or by phone, toll-free, at 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357).
To check on a business’s legitimacy while in the United States, contact the International Trade Administration, Room 3317, Department of Commerce, Washington, DC 20230, telephone: 1-800-USA-TRADE or 202-482-5149, fax: 202-482-5198. If you are abroad, contact the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.
Car Thefts and Carjacking: Carjacking and thefts from cars remain serious problems. Doors should remain locked and windows rolled up at all times. Motorists are urged to hide bags, cell phones, and other valuables from view at all times and to be extremely cautious when approaching intersections. “Smash-and-grab” robberies are common throughout South Africa, particularly in urban areas, at traffic lights, and at highway off-ramps. A criminal, sometimes posing as a vendor or beggar, will walk between lines of vehicles waiting at an intersection, surveying the contents for valuables. Once an item of value is identified, the perpetrator will quickly smash the window and grab the item off the seat before fleeing, often before the driver can determine what happened. In another scenario, an individual (or two working in tandem) may indicate to a driver an apparent flat tire or other problem and wait for the driver to pull over or exit the car before grabbing exposed valuables.
If you see a car pulled over to the side of the road do not stop to offer assistance, but rather call the police to report the vehicle’s location so that authorities can render assistance. You should avoid carrying anything of value inside the car (e.g., briefcases, purses, laptops, etc.) that could attract potential assailants. When parking your vehicle, use parking lots that are well-lit and have a security presence, and physically check that the vehicle is locked before you walk away. Criminals have perfected the technique of blocking the wireless alarm remote signal and either stealing the vehicle or waiting inside the vehicle for the driver to return in order to rob them.
Criminals, working in groups, have placed debris on the road (rocks, bricks, shards of metal, etc.) in an effort to puncture a vehicle’s tires. Another less-frequently used tactic is for criminals to throw rocks, bricks, paint, or eggs from freeway overpasses onto moving vehicles to damage cars and disorient drivers, forcing them to pull over. Other criminals hide along the road and rob the driver once he has pulled over to inspect the damage.
Airport Safety: Although infrequent, travelers leaving the airport have been targeted by criminals for robbery while en route to their hotels or places of residence. As such, all travelers should be extremely vigilant when leaving the airport and ensure that a reliable mode of transportation is used (such as arranging pick-up directly with a hotel, or using airport-approved modes of transport, such as Gautrain or official metered taxis from the taxi rank).
Concerted efforts have been made to reduce luggage theft and pilferage at O.R. Tambo International Airport (Johannesburg), with noticeable results. However, travelers are encouraged to lock their suitcases when possible and avoid placing valuables in checked baggage. A good practice, regardless of destination, is to make an inventory of items and contact your air carrier immediately if you experience a loss.
Criminals are known to also target travelers at ATMs in airports. Travelers should refer to the above section, “ATM Scams,” for security precautions at ATMs.
Firearms: Travelers to South Africa may not import or take in-transit any firearms or ammunition without a temporary import or in-transit permit issued by the South African Police Service. Information on how to obtain a permit for firearms for personal protection and hunting can be found at the South African Police Service’s Firearms website.
VICTIMS OF CRIME: If you or someone you know becomes the victim of a crime abroad, you should contact the local police and the nearest U.S. consulate. We can:
- Replace a stolen passport.
- Help you find appropriate medical care if you are the victim of violent crimes such as assault or rape.
- Assist in arranging counseling.
- Put you in contact with the appropriate police authorities and contact family members or friends.
- Help you understand the local criminal justice process and direct you to local attorneys, although it is important to remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting the crime.
The local equivalent to the “911” emergency line in South Africa is 10111.
Please see our information on victims of crime, including possible victim compensation programs in the United States.
Local Laws & Special Circumstances
CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While you are traveling in South Africa you are subject to its laws even if you are a U.S. citizen. Foreign laws and legal systems can be vastly different than our own. If you violate South Africa’s laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in South Africa are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. Engaging in trafficking or sexual conduct with children or using/disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States. Please see our information on Criminal Penalties.
Based on the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, bilateral agreements with certain countries, and customary international law, if U.S. citizens are arrested in South Africa, they should request that the police, prison officials, or other authorities alert the nearest U.S. consulate of the arrest, and to have communications forwarded to the nearest U.S. consulate. Notification by local authorities of U.S. citizens arrested in South Africa is rare. As such, U.S. citizens should request consular notification in the event that they are arrested.
SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: HIV and AIDS remain major public health concerns in the Republic of South Africa. According to the UNAIDS Report on the global AIDS epidemic (2010), about 5.6 million people are estimated to be living with HIV in South Africa, with 17.8 percent of the adult population (15-49) affected.
Women are disproportionately affected, accounting for approximately 55 percent of HIV-positive people. Women in the age group 25-29 are the worst-affected, with prevalence rates of up to 40 percent. For men, the peak is reached at older ages, with an estimated 10 percent prevalence among men older than 50 years. Public awareness in the country as to how to protect against infection is wide-spread and increasing. However, we recommend you exercise appropriate precautions if engaging in sexual activity, or if you are exposed to a blood source other than that supplied by a hospital for transfusion purposes.
Accessibility: While in South Africa, U.S. citizens with disabilities may find accessibility and accommodation very different from what is found in the United States. South African law mandates access to buildings for persons with disabilities, but these laws are rarely enforced. Even in government buildings, it is not unusual to encounter entrances with multiple stairs and elevators that have not been operational for some time, and many private businesses are no different. However, many of the tourist attractions, along with restaurants near the tourist attractions, are somewhat better-equipped with ramps and other options to facilitate access. If you are a traveler with a disability, you should plan ahead to ensure that your lodging and planned activities are able to accommodate any special requirements.
If you plan to import and/or export items, please see our Customs Information page.
Private medical facilities are good in urban areas and in the vicinity of game parks, but they may be limited elsewhere. Pharmacies are well-stocked, and equivalents to most American medicines are available. However, travelers taking specific medications should bring an adequate supply for their entire stay and a prescription with them. Nearly all private South African hospitals are owned by one of the following three corporations:
Information about locating private hospitals can be obtained by accessing these companies’ websites.
While most of South Africa is malaria-free, malaria risk exists throughout the year in rural low-altitude areas of Limpopo and Mpumalanga provinces, including Kruger National Park and neighboring game reserves. Risk also exists in the coastal lowlands of KwaZulu-Natal north of the Tugela River (including in Zululand, but excluding urban areas of Richards Bay). Risk is much lower from June to September. Visitors should prepare accordingly and use malaria prophylaxis and mosquito repellent. For information on malaria, its prevention, protection from insect bites, and anti-malarial drugs, please visit the CDC's malaria web page.
Tuberculosis is an increasingly serious health concern in South Africa. For further information, please consult the CDC's Travel Notice on TB. Many insect– and tick-borne illnesses are present. Tick and insect precautions are recommended. Schistosomiasis is present in far northeastern and eastern coastal freshwater bodies, including untreated water around game parks and inland resorts. Travelers should avoid freshwater exposure in these areas. Note the Yellow Fever information under “Entry Requirements.” Please also note the information on South Africa’s high HIV/AIDS prevalence under “Special Circumstances” above.
Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747) or via the CDC’s website. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad, consult the World Health Organization’s (WHO) website. Further general health information for travelers is available from the WHO.
Travel & Transportation
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning South Africa is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.
South African law does not require an international driver’s license for U.S. citizen tourists who are licensed to drive in the United States and who are in South Africa for less than six months. A valid driver’s license from any U.S. state or territory that has the signature and photo of the driver is valid to drive in South Africa for stays of less than six months. However, while South African law does not require an international driver’s license, insurance companies for both long-term residents and rental car customers often require proof of a South African or international driver’s license in order to honor an insurance claim, even when such proof was not requested at the time the policy was secured.
Unlike the United States, where traffic moves on the right-hand side of the road, traffic in South Africa moves on the left, and the steering wheel is on the right-hand side of the car.
Deaths from road accidents are more than twice as high in South Africa as they are globally. According to published reports, the high incidence of mortality in these collisions is due to a combination of poor driving, limited enforcement of traffic laws, road rage, aggressive driving, distracted driving, and driving under the influence of alcohol.
Travelers should use caution at all times when driving, and especially avoid nighttime travel outside major cities. Road conditions are generally good in South Africa; however, excessive speed, poor lighting on rural roads, and insufficient regulatory control of vehicle maintenance and operator licensing have resulted in an increasing number of traffic fatalities. Drivers should also take care to avoid pedestrians crossing roads or major highways.
Traffic lights are frequently out of order. Please treat all intersections with malfunctioning traffic lights as a four-way stop.
Travelers are advised to carry mobile phones. Please note that texting or talking without a hands-free unit while driving is a violation of South African law. U.S. mobile phones may not work in South Africa, but rental mobile phones are widely available and may be rented from kiosks at major airports. The nationwide emergency number for the police is 10111, and the nationwide number for ambulance service is 10177. It is not necessary to dial an area code when calling these numbers.
Pedestrian Safety: Take extreme care when crossing streets. Collisions involving vehicles and pedestrians are all too common on South African roadways. Pedestrian deaths occur regularly, including four cases involving U.S. citizen victims since 2008. Drivers are often aggressive towards pedestrians and fail to yield the right-of-way, even in marked crosswalks. NOTE: The U.S. Embassy in Pretoria and Consulates General in Johannesburg, Cape Town, and Durban are located on busy city streets, and visitors should exercise caution when walking to and from these facilities.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the government of South Africa’s Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of South Africa’s air carrier operations. Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page.
Assistance for U.S. Citizens
U.S. Consulate General Johannesburg
1 Sandton Drive (opposite Sandton City Mall)
- Telephone +(27) (11) 290-3000 (from South Africa 011-290-3000)
- Emergency After-Hours Telephone (011) 290-3000 or 079-111-1684 (outside South Africa: +(27) 79-111-1684)
- Fax +(27) (11) 884-0396 (from South Africa (011-884-0396)
- Email firstname.lastname@example.org
- U.S. Consulate General Johannesburg